Comment on Lifestream, Liked on YouTube: If we create female robots as perfect women, how will this affect us? by Renee Furner

Thanks for sharing your insight, Linzi. Your experience highlights the complexity of influences on body-image anxiety. You’ve encouraged me to do a little more research, in an attempt to pinpoint what it is about social media that has such an influence. Richard Perloff (2014) suggests that reasons social media has such an impact include:

-the 24/7 availability of social media allows ‘for exponentially more opportunities for social comparison and dysfunctional surveillance of pictures of disliked body parts than were ever available with the conventional mass media’ (p. 366)

-based on social comparison theory, ‘upward social comparisons with attractive peers can actually lead to more negative self-attractiveness ratings than comparisons with attractive advertising models, who are perceived as less similar and therefore a less diagnostic comparison group (Cash et al. 1983)’ (p. 369)

It’s probably also significant that appearance is critical within the many of the commonly held values of “today’s youth” (in inverted commas because (a) my data is old – 2007 and (b) I’m not sure such a generalisation is fair): in 2007 the top-ranked values were fame, achievement (defined as ‘being very successful’), popularity, image and financial success (Uhls & Greenfield, 2011).

It’s worth noting that in attempting to identify the cause of the changes in tween values Uhls and Greenfield identify that changes in communitarian values correlate with the ‘explosion of communication technologies’, increased Internet access and the advent of social networking sites such as YouTube, MySpace and Facebook.

So – you asked if will we have ‘perfect’ women or will the perfection just be lived out digitally. Good question. I suspect both.

from Comments for Renée’s EDC blog

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